Father Terry Rassmussen, pastor of St. Joseph in New Hope, finished reading, closed the Book of the Gospels, and stepped away from the ambo. From the congregation, Ginny Untiedt stepped forward.
Clad in a white robe, Untiedt bowed as Father Rassmussen laid his hands on her head and blessed her. She looked up, walked to the ambo and began preaching for the last time.
As many as 29 parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis have used lay preachers at Mass during the past 25 years. In January, however, Archbishop Harry Flynn instructed pastors to discontinue the practice. He gave his retirement date – May 2 – as the time by which parishes should develop "a pastoral plan" to end lay preaching at Mass.
In his January letter to pastors, Archbishop Flynn referenced the 2004 Vatican instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum," which called eucharistic lay preaching – a non-ordained person reflecting on the Gospel reading at the place in Mass usually reserved for a homily by a priest or deacon – a liturgical abuse.
…Many lay preachers have expressed "enormous grief and anger" over the directive to stop the practice, said Patricia Hughes Baumer, who co-founded the lay preaching training organization Partners in Preaching with her husband, Fred, in 1997.
Proponents of lay preaching argue that canon law allows the practice and that both the congregation and pastors benefit from hearing Gospel reflections from diverse voices.
Well I guess it is about time. I am not sure exactly why a "pastoral plan" was needed since a liturgical abuse shouldn’t be phased out, but eliminated. What exactly would a plan require other than that the priest or deacon deliver the homilies? Though I guess it can be a prudential decision because of the negative reaction. I just don’t understand how this practice could ever have been allowed in the first place and over such a long period of time.
Especially since it was not Redemptionis Sacramentum that changed this. This instruction only reiterated that this was indeed a liturgical abuse. The 1983 code of Canon Law specifically says:
+1. Among the forms of preaching the homily is preeminent; it is apart of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or to a deacon;
And no doubt the previous Code of Canon Law never allowed this practice either.
So whoever these unnamed proponents of lay preaching are that appeal to Canon Law they are not quite telling the truth.
The truth is that lay preaching is not prohibited, after all we are all part of the great commission to go out into the whole world and to preach the good news. It is just that lay people can’t do it during Mass. So on Sunday or any other time you go to Mass you can preach the Gospel pretty much 23/7. The great apologist Frank Sheed stood up on his soapbox in Hyde Park and preached up a storm. People gifted with preaching the faith can certainly find opportunities and forums to do so. Just because you can’t do it during the Mass doesn’t mean that you can’t preach the Gospel. This is just part of the same false idea I have talked about before that if you are not doing some activity directly in a Church or as part of the diocese/parish that it somehow doesn’t count.
Though I would suspect that many of these lay homilists were not quite faithful to the Church. If you just ignore Canon Law and the instructions of the Church more than likely that you will get homilies that ignore what the Church teaches for the sake of "diverse views."